House Leaders Introduce Resolution for Economic Amendments to the Philippine Constitution

MANILA — In a significant move towards economic reform, House leaders filed a resolution on Monday to amend certain economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, aligning their efforts with a similar initiative already undertaken by the Senate.

According to Philippines News Agency, Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe, and Deputy Majority Leader David Suarez, the Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 7 aims to modify Articles XII (National Economy and Patrimony), XIV (Education, Science, Technology, Arts, Culture, and Sports), and XVI (General Provisions) of the Constitution. These changes closely mirror those proposed in the Senate's RBH6 and focus on easing restrictions on foreign ownership in sectors such as public utilities, educational institutions, and the advertising industry.

Gonzales highlighted the alignment of the House's proposals with those of the Senate, stressing the urgency of beginning deliberations to expedite the amendment process. "Our RBH proposals are identical to the Senate's RBH. We need to start our own deliberations on the proposed amendments to keep pace with the Senate and speed up the process, especially since the Senate, according to Senate President Migs [Juan Miguel Zubiri], aims to complete their review before the Holy Week recess," Gonzales stated.

The proposed amendments would grant Congress the flexibility to adjust foreign ownership limits through the inclusion of the phrase "unless otherwise provided by law," allowing for a more dynamic response to changing economic conditions. This approach is designed to either relax or restrict ownership percentages in key industries, according to legislative discretion.

Both the House and Senate resolutions propose a constitutional assembly as the mechanism for these amendments, requiring a three-fourths vote of all members of Congress. This move has the backing of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and key congressional leaders, including Speaker Martin Romualdez and Senate President Zubiri, who agree on the necessity of liberalizing economic provisions to make the Philippine economy more competitive and attractive to foreign investors.

Highlighting the rationale behind the amendments, House Assistant Majority Leader and Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Mikaela Suansing pointed to the need for greater economic flexibility and adaptability in the face of global changes. The amendments aim to enhance the Philippine economy's ability to generate jobs and attract foreign investment by updating the constitutional framework to better reflect the realities of a globalized economy.

Suansing also mentioned that the Philippines' current foreign direct investment (FDI) policies are viewed as the third most restrictive globally, impacting the country's competitiveness and ability to attract investments compared to its ASEAN neighbors. The constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership are seen as barriers to participating in beneficial trade agreements, resulting in significant opportunity costs for the country.